OXFORD • A former Oxford police officer will avoid a potential death penalty by pleading guilty to murdering his girlfriend in May 2019.
Matthew Paul Kinne, 40, who was originally charged with capital murder, is expected to accept a plea agreement Friday. As part of the deal, in exchange for the guilty plea, the state will take the death penalty off the table and recommend Kinne be sentenced to life in prison.
“I am not at liberty to disclose any details, but we have been working hard for some time to obtain a resolution,” said Kinne’s attorney, Anthony Farese of Ashland.
Kinne, who was married, is accused of shooting his girlfriend, Dominique Clayton, 32, while she slept on May 19, 2019. The case generated a flurry of activity and public interest in the week following the killing.
On Sunday, May 19, 2019, Oxford police discovered Clayton’s body while responding to a call of an unresponsive person at 1009 Suncrest Drive at around 2 p.m. When they learned the victim was in a relationship with Kinne, they called in the Mississippi Bureau of Investigation to take over the case.
Oxford police and MBI arrested Kinne the following night at around 9:45. He was carried to the Panola County Jail for his safety.
Kinne’s arrest was announced during a press conference at noon, Tuesday, May 21, 2019. Later that night, the Oxford Board of Aldermen met in executive session and fired Kinne from his position with the police department.
On Wednesday, May 22, 2019, Circuit Court Judge Andrew Howorth presided over Kinne’s initial court appearance. Howorth ruled there was no need for a probable cause hearing and then delayed the bond hearing to allow the state to review the case and confer with Kinne’s public defender about the possibility of “reasonable” bond.
The victim’s family and then interim Oxford Police Chief Jeff McCutchen wanted Kinne held without bond.
On May 23, 2019, Howorth ordered Kinne’s case files sealed. Citing criticism by Clayton’s family over the way he handled the Wednesday hearing, Howorth recused himself from the case.
The following day, Third Circuit Court Judge John Gregory took over the case and ordered Kinne be held without bond.
A Lafayette County grand jury indicted Kinne on a charge of capital murder in August 2019. A month later, he entered a plea of not guilty when he was formally arraigned on the charge.
The case has essentially been on hold for the last two years. According to Farese, one of the biggest delays has been a slowdown at the Mississippi state crime lab in Pearl. Officials just recently received the final autopsy results.
“You can’t go to trial without the final autopsy results,” Farese said.